Ships transporting LNG don’t need more reservations at the Panama Canal, according to Jorge L. Quijano, Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority, cited by Bloomberg.
The statement was made in response to media claims that the canal doesn’t offer sufficient capacity to respond to the demand from the LNG industry.
However, Quijano said that based on the canal’s booking data, provided up to a year in advance, the demand from the LNG industry to transit the canal sits at less than seven reservations per week.
As informed, the canal offers them one reservation slot a day.
“But even so, of the LNG reservations that get booked, many go unused. In fact, 40 percent of the LNG vessels that reserve a slot cancel, often close to their transit date which prevents other vessels from using the slot and results in lost capacity for the canal and other customers,” Quijano said.
“This is the real challenge we face. The reality is that LNG vessels average four Canal transits per week, far less than the seven slots available to them. And so it’s hard to justify adding capacity until more and more consistent use exists.”
That said, the authority is working with the industry players on establishing a more reliable cooperation.
Quijano added that there were no Neopanamax ships waiting to transit and no delays with reservations, including LNG.
In July 2016, the canal hosted the first ever transit of an LNG carrier through its expanded locks.
U.S. exports of natural gas are expected to double LNG carrier transits through the canal by 2020, as disclosed earlier by Quijano.
Aside to natural gas from the US, the canal authority is looking into boosting LNG and LPG traffic from Asian customers. Namely, a Panama Canal delegation went on a data collection mission to Asia in April where it met with shipping companies and maritime organizations from Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan.
The expanded canal can accommodate 90 percent of the world’s LNG carriers, allowing ships departing the US East and Gulf Coast for Asia to cut voyage times to 22.8 days roundtrip.
World Maritime News Staff